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6 Brief-writing Tips For Newbie Lawyers

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6 Brief-writing Tips For Newbie Lawyers

Brief writing

I don’t want to be preaching to the choir here, but I’m pretty sure you know how important the quality of your brief is to the outcome of your case. It is extremely important that before you step into the courtroom for a hearing, you have made your best effort to present your arguments in your brief the best way simply because the briefs you submit will often set the stage for how well your arguments play out, and one slip-up could damage your case. But there are a few things every attorney can do to be great on paper. Here are six strategies that seasoned lawyers swear by when crafting compelling briefs for court.



Work out Your Key Argument

Experts believe that a precise brief stands the best chance at thumping the opposing side in a battle of filings. Conversely, key points can also get drowned out by lawyers’ leanings to raise all the facts. So before you do anything, make sure you know the main point you’re trying to get across to the court.

It is advised to figure out exactly what you want the court to know from your argument then structure your argument to literally track that exact structure, and keep it as simple as possible. Thus, resist the urge to bring up every issue and argument (unfortunately, that’s often instilled in law school). Otherwise, you risk putting yourself in the disastrous position of facing a judge bored by a forest of unnecessary details he or she has to go through before a hearing.


Make Your Story Compelling Story

A good practice to help engage a judge or panel is to focus on telling a clear and conversational story in briefs It’ll make it easier to follow the line of reasoning you’re getting at and make your argument feel more solid and persuasive.

Also, avoid sticking to a script or formula when structuring a brief, which will almost certainly lead to dry, robotic writing. Sometimes, you have to take a few chances to grow as a writer and as a lawyer. No one wants to read the same sentence over and over again. The fact is even judges are human beings, thus they want to be entertained too.

After all, the more you can draw in a judge at the brief stage, the better your chances at winning in the courtroom.


State Your Reason For Citing A Case

As important as not messing up a good argument with a lot of unnecessary facts or side arguments is, make sure the facts and arguments you do use are backed up with good explanations.

Don’t assume a judge will know offhand the reason you are pointing to a case.


Cases Cited MUST Supports Your Argument

Experts advice that you take great care to never miscite a case or misrepresent a ruling. It matters not if it is done on purpose or by accident, it will surely have serious consequences for both your case and your reputation. I’m sure the last thing a lawyer wants is to ruin his credibility with the court.

Be sure not to stretch the limits of reason when pointing to another case or ruling to support your argument. And don’t get careless by not fully reading the decision you’re citing and its background. If care is not taken, the case could become ammunition for the opposing side if it doesn’t completely support your point.


Pick Up On Hints in the Courtroom

While judges won’t necessarily come out and critique your brief-writing skills, listen for comments during a hearing that could give you a clue as to what he or she thinks about your style.
For example, if a judge comments on the voluminous briefs he had to get through to prepare for the hearing, start trying to trim verbiage.


Don’t Let Your Ego Get In Your Way

Experts say to avoid letting personal frustrations with opposing counsel color your briefs or arguments. More often than not, judges will look on these kinds of indiscretions as lapses in professional control. The focus should be on arguing your client’s case rather than sniping about your own grievances. It can go as far as undermining your credibility with the court.


  1. Barr. Nweke Anayo James says:

    Very good lesson

  2. Andrew J says:

    nicely written

  3. Victoria says:

    This is very nice and straight to the point.